Jasper's Story is about one Moon Bear, who was rescued from its captivity and brought to the Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu, China. In this lovely picture book, Jill Robinson, founder of the centre, shows how, little by little, Jasper is slowly introduced to the people who will care for him and nurse him back to good health and how, as he becomes used to his new den, he is able go out and play with the other rescued bears. In fact, Jasper seems to have quite a playful side to his personality.
Jasper's life as an extraction bear is given coverage, and there are some illustrations of the small, confining cages that he was kept in, but much to Jill Robinson's credit, this is done skillfully and tastefully so that it doesn't scare or upset young readers. Robinson focuses most of Jasper's Story on the time that Jasper spends at the rescue centre, his recovery and his newly gained freedom.
Teaching young readers about the exploitation and mistreatment of animals can be a real slippery slope for writers, but Robinson has done an exceptional job of it in this picture book for older readers. In addition, Jasper's Story has been realistically illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen in rich earth and sky tones that betrayal his own love of nature and wildlife.
Jasper has become the face of successful moon bear rescue and efforts to stop bile extraction in Asia. There is also interesting and informative back matter about Jasper in particular and moon bears in general, written by Robinson, van Frankenhuyzen and Marc Bekoff, an animal behavior specialist and Professor Emeritus that shouldn't be missed.
This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL
Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week by Wendie's Wanderings
This is book 10 of my Nonfiction Picture Book Reading Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy